The True Prize That Comes From a Significant Writing Life

I mentioned I have a desire for a new type of writing community—what I would call Writing for Your Life. I picked that title because it reminds me of Running for Your Life—which is all about survival, exhaustion, and endurance. And sometimes the writing life feels like a grueling marathon race with no end in sight.

Or maybe there’s an end in sight with lots of  confetti, ribbons, and trophies—but only a few seem to be making it toward that receding finish line. For you, it’s like a mirage in the desert that keeps moving away the closer you try to get to it. And you just keep running and looking off in the distance where those few wildly successful authors are eating up the accolades and smiling in the bright lights of stardom. It can sometimes make you despair and want to quit.

If You Can’t Not Write

But another reason I chose that title—Writing for Your Life—is to help us realize writing, for many of us authors, is not a short-term goal or series of goals.  We write because we have to, because we can’t not write. It makes me think of what one writing instructor and prolific author said: “Don’t ask yourself if you have a book inside you—ask if you have a writer inside you.”

What he meant by that (if it’s not obvious enough) is that if you see yourself as a writer for life—if this isn’t just a temporary state of mind or career but a way you function as you go through life, a lens you wear through which to see yourself and the world and a vehicle by which you express yourself to the world—then you need a plan for life. A methodology or worldview or perspective—whatever you want to call it—that can help you find joy in the journey despite outward and traditional measures of success.

So, the first part of my “big idea” is about getting us to examine our thinking about success—what it looks like and how we think someone achieves it. The old model no longer works, and even those few who find their success based on the old definitions are rarely happy, satisfied, or joyful.

In fact, as Donald Maass notes in his best-selling book the Fire in the Fiction, too many published authors turn bitter, negative, and become frustrated even with steady sales. Why? Because they invested in the old model of success and it’s just not working.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Why do you write?
  • Why do you need to write?
  • How do you define success?
  • What kind of success do you think you need to achieve to feel you’ve made it, to feel good about yourself?

What if I told you that perhaps all your answers , all the things you believe about a successful writing career and what will validate your years of hard work, are actually preventing you from having true success? And real joy?

 A Radical Shift in Thinking

There is a truly different way of thinking about writing for life. It may seem scary, ridiculous, even lame. If you’re content simmering in your waiting room, frustrated and unfulfilled, why not go through a different door instead of sitting in the dark waiting for a miracle to swoop down and rescue you?

You know the odds of breaking out as a best-selling novelist (more chance of winning the lottery if you look at the number of books being written, submitted, and published each year), but you still think by following the old failing methods that you will achieve success. I hate to remind you but it probably won’t happen. So why let that disappointment destroy your joy of writing?

I’m challenging you to step outside your small, cramped dark box and take a new innovative journey toward success by exploring other roads to success. Writing for your Life will first help you by shifting your view on what it means to you to be a writer for life on this rocky road.

We’ll explore CRAVE—an acronym of ideas that will help you understand need, motivation, and fear. And then armed with insight, along with a community of fellow authors, we’ll step out on the stage to help each other build to 1,000 true fans—for ourselves and each other. I plan to not only introduce you to a thriving community that is already acheiving some great successes for authors but also use one of my novels as a test to see how far a novel can go through savvy promoting, engaging in and cross-promoting via a community, and having a go-get-em positive attitude.

Over this year, I’ll be posting about my personal journey with tips, links, and direction for you to chart your own path through the wild waters of publishing. And I am excited because I know there will be some great rewards!

If If If . . .

You can only do so much virally on your own, but with the support of a tribe and clear, practical steps to implement, you can achieve success—the kind that brings you success now—along with joy and a true sense of significance and achievement. You may have heard the saying that “life is a journey not a destination.” As actor Kevin Spacey said in an interview:

There is no prize out there. The only prize is this one [pointing to his heart] and what you feel and what you want to accomplish. I watch a lot of young people meandering around without any idea of why they’re doing what they’re doing. To want—to be ambitious and to want to be successful—is not enough. That’s just desire. To know what you want, to understand why you’re doing it, to dedicate every breath in your body to achieve . . . If you feel you have something to give, if you feel that your particular talent is worth developing, is worth caring for, then there’s nothing you can’t achieve.

I believe this with all my heart. And I invite you to embark on a new journey of the heart that will shift the way you view yourself, success, and your creativity. Follow this blog and be ready to learn some great things this year!

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  1. Hello !

    1- you say: We write because we have to, because we can’t not write. I am already doing that and always have.

    2- you say: You may have heard the saying that “life is a journey not a destination.” I have been on that journey for over 70 years, never living in a cramped dark box.

    3- you say: the old model of success – you refer to the cultural idea of American “success” , it does have a number of pitfalls – but I come from another culture. Traversing different worlds I have seen various meanings to the word “success”.

    Nevertheless I am curious about what you are envisioning to do. I wish you the best success! ….

  2. Intriguing post. I, too, am interested to see where you are going with this. I didn’t start my writing life until I was older. I have always been creative, but I used my creative energy in other areas during the first half of my life – a variety of crafts, painting and drawing. But once I started to write, I no longer did any of the other stuff. I am nearly 67 now. I write whether there is anyone to read it or not. I do want to be published, of course, but the joy is initially in the actual craft of writing, using words to form pictures, stories, teach. Once published, the joy comes from the fact that someone else finds joy in reading it, or receives help in some area of their lives. That is satisfaction, fulfillment. That is life.

    1. Nicely said. I expressed my desires and fantasies in sketches, painting and scrap booking before the voices in my head became too strong, and I had to listen and write. But it is another way of exploring, revealing and expressing what is in my mind and heart. Like you so eloquently said in your post.

  3. Like Diane above, I came to writing late, having gone through other creative outlets. I have always written, but it was something I did for myself, and was mainly to come to terms with aspects of my life.
    Now, I have written and self-published my first novel. I am not a promoter, so it sits there, waiting for anyone to find it. But I am not sitting back; I am writing a sequel to that first novel. I write other things too, short stories, poetry, memoir, biography. I have two blogs, the main one being I MUST write – I already write for life.
    But I am wondering what you are aiming for and would like to see where this leads.

  4. I’m all ears or should I say “eyes”. If this is going toward self-publishing, then perhaps it will help me overcome my prejudice towards self-publishing.

    1. The whole year will be filled with suggestions, tips, updates, and info on how to really successfully promote and market your books. And there will be some great new programs starting that nothing compares to so keep posted!

  5. I think cross-promotion will be one of the major keys in author success in the coming years. It’s not enough to toot your own horn; you have to be part of a community to be heard.

    And truthfully, I’m glad it’s working out that way. There is still competition in all of this, but readers don’t want to just read one author all of the time. Those Kindles and Nooks have room for plenty of titles.

    Looking forward to what you have to say in the coming year.

  6. As I drove this morning to pick up our dog from the kennel 30 minutes from our house, I had some seriously high quality ‘writing contemplation’ time. I applauded myself, questioned myself, forgave myself, cajoled myself and even kicked my own butt at one point. If the only way I were able to write is if I accepted that I would never become ‘known’ in any way, shape or form, I would seal the deal without a backward look. Count me in, I’m along for the ride.

  7. Inspiring post Suzanne. Perhaps we ought to delete the word “Success” from our vocabulary and replace it with the word “Contentment.” The contentment we feel for a job done, a field planted or teaching a child right from wrong is a great feeling. Whether our books sell or not, if we accomplished our purpose and spread the message across then the job was well done.

  8. I am curious about CRAVE, maybe this is revealed in earlier posts I have yet to read. I’m already filling in some blanks, Create, Rewrite, Appreciate, Value and Energize.

    Not only a stimulating post, but such thoughtful replies. I love the team building and mutually supportive community you suggest. We achieve so much more by helping others succeed as well.

    Looking forward to more, and thank you.

    1. I’m sorry I left you hanging! Later this month I’ll be going into that and the whole psychology about success, with a guest post from a therapist (Don’t we writers all need therapy?) so stay tuned and you’ll get your answer! It’s all about our core needs and how we tie success into those–for good or bad.

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